Part 2: Summer Seasonal Produce Guide
From BBQs and picnics to pool parties and warm nights, summer provides many options to enjoy being outside with friends and family. It also brings warmer weather that makes for ideal growing conditions for a variety of fruits and vegetables across the country.
In the last post, we learned about the fresh produce you can find during the spring. While you will still find some of the same options for seasonal fruits and vegetables as before, during the summertime, your list of available choices expands greatly:
1. The Northeast
In the summer, the Northeast states enjoy a widening variety of produce:
- Green beans: Green bean casserole might be the first to come to mind, but there are many other options for green beans. You can steam them and serve them as a side dish or you might also try them with penne pasta and tomatoes.
Tomatoes: Speaking of tomatoes, you can find them in season this time of year as well. You can eat them raw — fresh tomatoes are bursting with sweetness, but they are also ideal on a pizza, in a salad or even just marinated.
- Eggplant: When you are shopping for an eggplant, be sure to look for one that has smooth, shiny skin and is a bit small. It means the flesh will likely be sweeter. Try serving it stuffed.
- Peas: Green peas have lots of fiber, protein and micro-nutrients — and the possibilities for cooking with peas are endless.
Other fresh fruits and vegetables you will find this time of year in the Northeast include apples, corn, pears, plums, carrots, celery and more.
2. The Midwest
Summer in the Midwest states brings a large selection of local fruits and vegetables, including:
- Watermelon: Summer and watermelon go hand-in-hand, but you can do more with it than just eat it raw — though that is a perfect option. Try adding it to a smoothie or experimenting with these watermelon cakes.
- Zucchini: Zucchini is abundant this time of year, which means you are going to need some different ways to cook it. You can go with the classic zucchini bread, or you can try it in pasta and chocolate chip cookies.
- Spinach: Spinach is rich with antioxidants as well as many vitamins and minerals. You can eat it raw, cooked or chopped up and mixed in with your favorite dish. Because it is hot this time of year, a spinach salad may be a good choice.
Other fruits and veggies you will find in the Midwest this time of year include apples, cauliflower, chard, beets, cherries and plums.
3. The South and Southwest
Summer brings about the sweet and savory in fruits and vegetables in the South and Southwest. Look for favorites such as:
- Figs: Figs come from the ficus tree, and like many other fruits and vegetables, it has a lot of beneficial fiber — plus vitamins and minerals like vitamin K, vitamin E, potassium, calcium and even copper. Figs are sweet enough to eat raw, but you might try them with honey, yogurt and pine nuts for a delicious breakfast.
- Pomegranates: Whether you like the juice or just getting the burst of sweetness from each little tendril, pomegranates are considered to be a superfruit. Add them fruit to salads, dressings, breads and more.
- Sweet potatoes: With their bright orange color, sweet potatoes make for a tasty and beautiful addition to many dishes. They are rich in beta-carotene (vitamin A) and are ideal for savory or sweet meals.
Other delicious options you will find this time of year include apples, raspberries, peaches, oranges, cucumbers, arugula and asparagus.
4. The Northwest
During the summer in the Northwest, there is a very diverse range of fruits and veggies. The warm days, short nights and moderate temperatures make an ideal growing climate for:
- Artichokes: You might try adding artichokes to pizza or salad, but they are also great steamed. Add a little bit of butter for dipping, and you have a delicious side dish to accompany just about anything.
- Cucumbers: There is not much that can beat the satisfying and refreshing crunch of a fresh cucumber. It is perfect in salads or you can add some to a pitcher of water to infuse a little extra flavor to your next glass.
- Raspberries: You will only find raspberries for a short window during the Northwest summer, so stock up while you can. With their red color and unbeatable sweetness, you can add them to smoothies, bread, salad and more. If you get a lot of them, stick the extras in the freezer. Just make sure they are completely dry first.
You can also find apricots, blueberries, onions, spinach, lettuce, carrots and potatoes locally grown in the Northwest during the summer.
Whether you are picking up some eggplant, raspberries, sweet potatoes, cucumber or a little bit of everything, our canvas tote bags can help you carry it. Savor all your fresh, seasonal summer produce, and in the next piece, we will take a look at vegetables and fruits that grow best during the fall.